Tequila Bar & Grille
333 West Harbor Drive, San Diego CA, 92101 (map), inside the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina; 619-234-1500
Cooking method: Grilled
Short Order: The burger is tasty enough, but the main attraction is the scenery (and the churros!)
Want Fries With That? Fries come standard. They're just ok
Price: Grilled Hamburger Torta, $13; churros, $7
I'm going to let you in on a little secret: one of my favorite spots for mid day R&R is the Marriott Marquis & Marina in downtown San Diego, right beside the Convention Center. Not inside the hotel, mind you, but outside on the courtyard with all of the towering palm trees, bubbling fountains, and multitude of lounge chairs arranged around the sparkling pool, and in more inconspicuous, shaded areas closer to Tequila Grille, the on-site restaurant. Yep, it's pretty much paradise. Scroll down to see what I mean.
Like any good hotel restaurant, Tequila Grille serves a burger. It's listed as a "Grilled Hamburger Torta" ($13), likely because the menu is mostly Mexican fare. But, aside from some jalapeño relish, it's a totally standard bacon cheeseburger on a squishy, white bun (not the torta roll that I was expecting).
As burgers go, this is a good one. The patty was cooked to order and the beef was juicy and well seasoned, with a fairly rich flavor. The tomato and lettuce were both fresh and crisp and the cheese was nicely melted, but the bacon looked alarmingly similar to the microwaveable variety. That was fine by me (I like the stuff!), but if thick-cut slabs of bacon are important to you, you might be a bit disappointed.
The fluffy, squishy bun held up nicely right to the end, but it would have been tastier if it had been more toasted. Only the outer edge was lightly browned. Without onions (which I nixed on purpose) and the advertised jalapeño relish (which was MIA), the burger was a little bland. My advice: order the burger as is and pick the onions off if they become a problem.
Is this burger life-changing? Nope. Are you going to take a photo of it and tell your friends about it? Probably not. But it still checks all the important boxes (and you can't beat the location whether you're looking for somewhere relaxing and tropical, you're at a conference next door, or both).
Fries come standard, but my interested in them quickly waned. The oil tasted stale, they were on the pale side, and aside from providing some starch, they really weren't anything special. Save your appetite for the churros instead.
Oh yes, the churros ($7). The warm, crisp, sugar-crusted, deep-fried sticks of pastry come six to a serving with two dips (chocolate and dulche de leche). They could have used less sugar and a lot more cinnamon, but really, a freshly made churro served with enough caramel sauce to quintuple-dip every last one can do no wrong. I had zero trouble finishing the entire order by myself.
Next time, I'd probably skip the burger and just get right to what's really good: churros, and maybe a cocktail. The mango tequila mojito sounds mighty fine.
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax